Earlier this year, Nordstrom announced a reaffirmed $500 million commitment to uplift more Black fashion brands.
Now, the retailer is focusing on its newly-introduced series called “Black_Space” — the twelfth edition of its New Concepts program which aims to provide an immersive shopping experience for customers curated by Black creators.
“New Concepts @Nordstrom has always been a platform to tell brand and product stories, with the goal to try and show the interconnectivity between fashion and culture,” Sam Lobban — SVP of Designer and New Concepts at Nordstrom — said in a press statement. “In line with that, we’ve always wanted to do something which would bring together a group of creatives with whom both the New Concepts team and I have built relationships with over our careers; people who we respect and appreciate for their unique and diverse perspective. Through this process we collaboratively built Concept 012: Black_Space, ultimately with the aim to celebrate Black fashion and creativity through the lens of some of the figures who are helping to shape it.”
According to Esquire, this installment of the series includes the work of five Black creatives — Harris Elliott, Beth Birkett, Matthew Henson, Marcus Paul, and Azza Yousif — who are all working to bring forth creativity in Black culture through the lens of beauty and fashion.
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To start of the program, each Black creator handpicked 28 different brands — 25 of which are new to Nordstrom — that range between various tastes and price ranges.
“The curators selected brands that they loved and felt were a representation of Black fashion and Black creativity,” Lobban told Esquire. “We worked closely with each of them to develop their product assortment, while letting them take the reins to authentically convey their point of view and introduce brands and merchandise that celebrate Black fashion and beauty.”
Four of the program’s creators spoke with Esquire for an exclusive interview about their involvement in Nordstrom’s latest initiative and how they predict it will shape our culture in the future.
“I became part of this project because previously there hasn’t been an initiative like this at Nordstrom,” stylist Marcus Paul shared with the outlet. “They provided a platform to foster collaboration, which led to a sharing of perspective and narrative. In addition, it is an opportunity for me to assist Black designers and creatives who are looking to partner or start their own business in the fashion industry.”
In terms of how Black_Space will change the fashion industry moving forward, stylist Matthew Henson told Esquire “this project focusing on Black creatives, creators, designers, in and of itself is helping to shape and recreate the narrative of exclusion that fashion has carried since its beginnings.”
Creative director Harris Elliott added, “I believe many brands are fearful about truly engaging with Black culture, because an unbiased and nuanced context of Black experiences are not taught or widely shared in education or the media. Black culture needs to be reflected without bias. Brands will often tokenize Black references in order to appear culturally relevant. I hope that Concept 012: Black_Space encourages those in the fashion industry to begin to address racial imbalance and celebrate Black narratives as they have now seen that this project is powerful, relevant, and engages with wide audience demographics.”
For more information about Nordstrom’s commitment to diversity, inclusion, and belonging, click here.